A team from the local Search and Rescue group received some practical avalanche training on a mountain in North Vancover.
Eight members of Ridge Meadows Search and Rescue headed to the slopes of Mount Seymour to brush up on their avalanche safety skills last week.
Brent Boulet, team leader with the local agency, said it was a great exercise to keep their skills sharp.
The group practised assessing the snowpack to see if their assessment lined up with local avalanche forecast, using avalanche transceivers – a beacon that they use to locate someone buried under the snow – and then a probe to find a buried person, and shovelling techniques to dig the person out.
Not only are the skills important for rescuing subjects caught in an avalanche, noted Boulet, but they are also good for making decisions about safely travelling through avalanche terrain.
The group chose to go to Mount Seymour because of the easily accessible, low risk, snowy terrain.
Avalanche skills are honed a few times every year – and usually done closer to home. However, at those times the group has to practise their skills on grassy fields, hiding beacons in bushes instead of underneath the snow as the snow on the Golden Ears Mountains is more difficult to access.
“A lot longer of a trip to get up into some snow in Golden Ears Park versus driving to a parking lot on Mount Seymour and walking right into the terrain up there,” elaborated Boulet.
It’s been a quiet season, so far, for the Search and Rescue group, and Boulet wants to remind those head up to the snow that conditions are mixed right now, depending on the elevation.
“When you have periods of warm, rainy temperatures mixed with cold, snowy temperatures, you get lots of layers in the snow pack, which when you have those layers in the snowpack, it can increase the risk of an avalanche,” elaborated Boulet. “And it changes everyday. It’s something that people have to look at daily.”
People need to be knowledgeable in avalanche skills, he said. Information about avalanche training, the local forecast, and travel advice for specific areas can be found at avalanche.ca.
Boulet added that the group normally trains every Wednesday night in different rescue skills like rope rescue, mock search scenarios, the use of GPS, and map and compass training.
For more information go to rmsar.bc.ca.
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